66% of Canadians are comfortable with less social interactions than they had before the pandemic: report
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Pandemic stress over the past two years has driven many Canadians to consider a career change, says a monthly health survey.
LifeWorks Inc.’s mental health index found nearly half of workers are, or possibly are, rethinking their career goals due to COVID-19.
“Canadians continue to face many challenges, both within and outside of the workplace as a result of the pandemic, across the full physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing spectrum,” Stephen Liptrap, LifeWorks president and CEO, said in a press release. “The decisions being made are largely due to people seeking opportunities to improve their overall wellbeing.”
Workers remain under strain. The findings showed that the general psychological health of Canadians is at the lowest point in the past 23 months.
Work productivity saw the most significant improvement in February, reaching a high not seen since the launch of the index in April 2020. Yet, 30 per cent of workers surveyed are considering retraining for a different career, 24 per cent are considering resigning and moving to a different role, and 21 per cent are considering retiring.
One worrying trend the poll identified is that nearly two-thirds (66 per cent) of survey-takers are comfortable with less social interaction than they had before the pandemic.
“There was a trend toward increased isolation before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated,” said Paula Allen, LifeWorks global leader and senior vice-president in the press release. “This is yet another risk factor for mental health that both individuals and employers need to be concerned about.”
The survey found that employees who will be making a career change or whose career goals changed due to the pandemic have lower mental health scores (-18.5) than the national average (-10.6).
Poor mental health also had a strong correlation with absenteeism. The data showed that workers who missed more days of work due to illness had lower mental health scores than those with fewer days lost.
Better mental health was associated with feeling valued, doing work that is valued, having control, and being accepted.
Meanwhile, the lowest mental health score (-29.4) was among those who do not believe they can be themselves at work. Younger employees were also most likely to believe their work is not important to their employer.
Allen said that social interaction has to be part of the long-term solution. “It might take some time, but we need to start connecting to others more than we are now,” she said. “It is clear that people are comfortable interacting and seeing other individuals less, and even though less interaction is what we have become used to, it does not mean that it is best in the long-term.”
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Today’s Posthaste was written by Noella Ovid, with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.
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